Australian Rugby
Giteau scoops John Eales medal
October 22, 2009
Australia fly-half Matt Giteau poses with the John Eales medal at the Carriage Works, Sydney, Australia, October 22, 2009
Matt Giteau has scooped the prestigious John Eales medal © Getty Images

Matt Giteau has won the 2009 John Eales Medal, the award that recognises Australia's standout international player in the past 12 months as voted by his peers.

The who's who of Australian rugby gathered in Sydney to celebrate the best on and off-field exploits of the past year, with members of the 1984 Grand Slam winning side present to add an historic theme ahead of the current crop's upcoming attempt.

The 27-year-old fly-half beat out close competition from forwards Nathan Sharpe and George Smith to claim the top honour, having scored the most points (162) and the most tries (5) for the team in the voting period.

Giteau admitted his surprise at being the new John Eales Medalist. "It's a huge honour, something I certainly didn't expect. I'm very happy. It was the worst Tri-Nations I've played, so I've just got to continue to play badly," he joked.

Benn Robinson - voted fourth best by fellow players - was the fans' favourite, taking out the People's Choice award which was previously held by new captain Rocky Elsom.

James O'Connor picked up the Rookie of the Year prize, available to players who have made their Test debuts in the past year. The teenage back had been the standout of a relatively large field, given the transitional nature of the Australian team.

Try of the Year went to Adam Ashley-Cooper for touching down at the end of a swift backline move in Australia's 28-14 win over England at Twickenham in 2008. Legendary Wallabies Jon White, Alec Ross and Tony Miller were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

James Slipper is a named to watch out for in the future, after the youngster picked up the Under 20s Player of the Year, while Stu Dickinson was voted Australia's leading referee.

Former Australian captain Nick Farr-Jones picked up the Joe French Award, given to an individual for their contribution and outstanding service to rugby.

Debbie Hodgkinson won Sevens Player of the Year, the Shawn Mackay Award, named after the Australian Sevens captain who was tragically killed after being hit by a vehicle while in South Africa with the Brumbies Super 14 team earlier this year. Mackay had coached the women's team containing Hodgkinson, who also won Australian Women's Player of the Year.


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